Symantec sees Blue Coat acquisition as revolutionizing company and whole industry

In addition to portfolios that the companies say are highly synergistic and with little overlap, the deal also brings Blue Coat CEO Greg Clark into the vacant Symantec CEO position, which has positive vibes given Clark’s highly successful turn-around of Blue Coat.

Greg Clark Symantec

Greg Clark, CEO at Blue Coat, and soon, Symantec

Today, Symantec announced its acquisition of fellow security vendor Blue Coat for approximately $USD 4.65 billion in cash, with the deal expected to close in the third calendar quarter of 2016. Symantec, which has been without a full-time CEO since Mike Brown stepped down in April, gains one through this deal. Greg Clark, Blue Coat’s CEO, will be appointed CEO of Symantec and join the Symantec Board upon closing of the transaction.

“We believe this is a historic day for Symantec and for the cybersecurity industry,” said Dan Schulman, Symantec’s Chairman of the Board, in a conference call announcing the transaction. “It’s a major leap forward for both of our companies and for the industry.”

Schulman said that this acquisition represented the second step in Symantec’s plan to revitalize itself. The first was the divestiture last year of Veritas, which allowed Symantec to focus completely on security. He described the merged company as an extremely compelling combination with the broadest security resources, and richest and deepest threat capabilities in the industry.

“It’s a perfect fit,” he said. “The two companies come together very nicely to provide an overall fabric that we can pull together into one integrated platform. It is the leading end-to-end web and cloud security platform not just for where customers are, but where they are going.”

Schulman said that the deal is transformative in several ways – for customers, for shareholders, and by getting the right leader, for Symantec itself.

Symantec is emphasizing that the two companies’ portfolios are a very strong fit, with great synergies and little overlap.

“With this combination, we re defining the future of cybersecurity,” said Ajei Gopal, Symantec’s President and Interim CEO. “This combination will have the leading end-to-end cloud security platform to serve customers of all sizes as they embrace the cloud. It creates a platform of sustainable growth with industry-leading profitability, and best in breed protection across all major threat vectors, and for both on-prem and cloud. Our solutions dovetail perfectly with only a small overlap in our product portfolios.”

Gopal emphasized that the two companies’ threat detection engines are also highly complementary as well.

“There is a huge leverage in our ability to share our core protection engines as well as the data we collect,” he said. “Symantec and Blue Coat collect different and complementary data sets. Taken together, we will have unmatched visibility into the threat landscape.”

Getting Clark as part of the deal certainly seems to be a coup, as his record at Blue Coat was an impressive one. Under his leadership, the company successfully reinvented itself, pivoting from being a not overly successful WAN optimization vendor into the Web security space, where it has become the market share leader, with a 43 per cent share. For their most recent fiscal year ending April 30, 2016, GAAP revenue was $598 million and non-GAAP revenue was $755 million, with 17 per cent year-over-year growth.

“He checks all of the boxes we were looking for in a CEO,” Schulman said. He explained that the CEO search had been looking for four criteria: prior CEO experience; a software background; operational rigour and expertise; and, ideally, security domain expertise.

“This is a monumental day for cyberdefense and cybersecurity,” Clark said. “The combination of our threat intelligence databases and the immediate effectiveness gains that brings to our web gateway, end point, and other solutions really sets us apart from the competitors.”

Clark outlined some details of Symantec’s integration roadmap, in response to questions taken on the call.

“Delivering this integrated platform is something we will get busy on,” he said. “Our first priority will be the threat intelligence integration. That gives immediate benefits without having to integrate a lot of code, and we can do that at a rapid pace.”

Following that, Clark that there were some relatively easy things to do that could drive great revenue upsides

“One is DLP [Data Loss Prevention]. Integrating the Blue Coat Proxy SG into a consistent solution from Symantec will be a great tailwind for our enterprise business,” he said. He also pointed to cloud-based sandboxing to deal with advanced threats, which he said would change the industry in the detection of zero day threats and previously unknown malware.

“I’m also excited about our email technologies, where in combination we can pull plenty of threats out,” he said. “We can do all these without having to go below the ocean in the engineering lab. These are things that we can do quickly.”

Clark also said that past failures to integrate network and endpoint-based systems successfully – including Symantec’s exiting of its own network business ten years ago – are of little relevance today.

“Times have changed,” he said. “There isn’t an endpoint that isn’t mobile that matters any more. It’s more congruent to think of an endpoint that isn’t connected to the network. At Blue Coat, we already have substantial integration into endpoint with our security cloud. We can integrate the endpoint from Symantec with that and provide an amazing onramp to the mobile workforce. Technically, we have a line of sight on how to do that.”

Symantec also announced several cash infusions in connection with the transaction. Silver Lake has agreed to make an additional investment of $500 million, doubling its investment in Symantec to $1 billion. Bain Capital has agreed to make an investment of $750 million. In addition, the Blue Coat executive team joining Symantec will be investing approximately $200 million of their Blue Coat equity into Symantec.

“All of these are strong signals to the tremendous opportunities ahead for the combined company.” Schulman said.